As I get the car loaded up, fill the tank with gas and get out my road map out, I head out for the sixth in a series of our FLORIDA SUMMER TOUR.
This week we start at Milton, head toward Tallahassee Godby, dip down to see Live Oak Suwannee, make our way toward Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer and then end up in Miami-Dade County with the Norland Vikings.
This week we will begin the tour in the Panhandle. As I have said over and over again, this is one of the state's untapped areas for football talent, and no more will that be on display than the Class of 2006, where you can bet that two to three players from the area will be among Florida's top 25-30 players.
For years, one of the state's most productive teams has resided in the town of Milton. Head Coach Mike McMillion once again has the cupboard loaded with talent for the upcoming season.
The Panthers feature one of the top kickers in the state in 2003 All-State selection Zack Kutch, defensive lineman Andrew Jackson (6-0, 275) and defensive back Grayson Wood (5-8, 160).
On offense, there's lineman David Gardner (6-4, 300), Darrell Samuel (6-0, 250) and Gerren Parker (6-2, 250), and receivers Gavin Hawthorne (6-2, 185) and Landell Cade (5-8, 160).
Milton also features a promising 2006 player in tight end/linebackeer Joshua Smiley (6-3, 215).
As we head toward the east on I-10, we pull into Tallahassee, where head coach Shelton Crews and his Godby Cougars enter the the 2004 season in very good shape.
The senior class features underexposed running back Roy Upchurch (6-1, 195) and athlete Eric Chaires (6-1, 175) on offense, and a defense that will showcase safety Donald Frost (5-11, 175), corner back E.K. Sawyerr (6-0, 175) and linebacker Rico Carroll (5-10, 200).
If you want to make Crews smile, ask about his underclassmen. The Class of 2006 features two-way players DeAndre McDaniel (DB/WR, 6-1, 175), Marcus Udell (DB/WR, 6-1, 175), standout Kareem Crowell (DE/TE, 6-4, 240), Frank Grimes (DL/FB, 5-11, 240), Rod Murray (LB/OL, 5-10, 200), Reggie Litman (DB/WR, 5-10, 165) and defensive back/wide receiver Kendall Williams, a 5-11, 185-pounder.
The class also has offensive lineman Kevin McKaskill (6-2, 265) and quarterback Emanuel Francis (6-3, 175).
The underclass continues with a quality group of 2007 players in tight end/defensive end Keith McKaskill (6-1, 200), linebacker/running back Major Wright (6-0, 190), wide receiver/defensive back Mike Williams and offensive lineman Zach Joanas (6-0, 240).
As we continue heading to the east on I-10 toward I-75 where we make a stop at one of Florida's best places to play high school football.
Suwannee County High School in Live Oak has long provided tradition and plenty of atmosphere, and the 2004 season under head coach Jay Walls will see the same thing for the Bulldogs.
Led by University of Miami defensive back commitment Bruce Johnson (6-0, 175), the tradition is likely to continue.
Wide receiver/defensive back Patrick Cherry (6-1, 190) and lineman A.J. Shuler (6-0, 280) are also marquee players that this program will feature this coming season.
Also, running back/linebacker Lawrence Tyre (5-10, 175), tight end/defensive end Nicholas Beck (5-10, 180), running back/linebacker Delwyn Allen (5-10, 180) and tight end Seth Shaw (6-1, 190) will be worth keeping an eye on.
The Class of 2006 shows plenty of promise as well with quarterback/punter Rheed Baldwin (6-1, 180), receiver/safety William Moran Jr. (5-10, 170), tight end/defensive end Terrell Roman (6-2, 215), two-way lineman Michael Wright (6-0, 230) and Matthew Yanossy, a 5-10, 180-pound fullback.
Week No. 6 comes to an end as we travel south toward nothern Palm Beach County where we pay a visit to head coach Jack Daniels and his Panthers of William T. Dwyer.
One of the state's best programs has re-stocked and are ready to make another push for a playoff spot this coming season.
The Class of 2005 is led by versatile Chris May (6-0, 190), tight end/defensive end Jaevery McFadden (6-2, 215), quarterback Steve Austin (5-9, 165), linebacker David Siegel (5-9, 185), defensive back Smith Walters (5-9, 160), offensive lineman Chris Tessitore (6-1, 270) and receiver/linebacker Earnest Wallace (6-1, 180). Tessitore is the teams' best lineman since Rashad Butler, who went on to Miami.
The Class of 2006 is simply impressive with two of the state's very best in lineman Rick Burgess (6-2, 225) and defensive end Tuboris Larkins, a giant 6-5, 270-pounder!
We wind up our sixth trip this week with a ride down toward northern Miami-Dade County and a program that is just two years removed from a 6A state title.
Coach Nigel Dunn's Norland Vikings took some lumps a year ago, but believe they have enough quality to make a return in 2004.
The rising senior class could be as talented as the group that surprised Orlando Edgewater two years ago.
On offense, star quality tight end (also defensive end) Richard Gordon (6-5, 240) is going to be a weapon. So will linemen Erwin Carty (5-10, 280) and Abel West, a 6-4, 315-pounder that nobody knows about. Also, receivers Walter Lewis (5-11, 170), Adrian Merrit (5-4, 140), Andre Coleman (6-1, 180) and Kareem Williams (6-1, 175), running back Travis Mills (5-9, 150), quarterback Dwight Flukerberry (6-2, 190) will be impact players.
On defense, cornerback Bryan Parker (5-8, 150), star quality and underrated linebacker Garrett White (6-2, 230), and linebackers Craig Delaughter (6-1, 190), Robert Gillis (5-9, 170), Greg Delaughter (5-9, 165), linemen Jim Diejuste (5-10, 195), Ben Ferguson (5-10, 230) and Estylin Harrison (6-2, 220) have all shown that they are more than capable.
The Class of 2006 is also worth watching with running backs Guy Bailey, Glenn Jackson, linemen Dionte Ford, Russell Delaughter, Ricardo Rutherford and Desron Samuel, and receiver Algueven Rawls.
On defense, there's cornerback William Hughes, Shannon Ballard, Derek Silas, Jonathan Ferguson, Floyd Larmond and Antonio Law, linebackers Ronald Rivers, tackles Kameron Starks and Nabil Odeh.
The Class of 2007 figures to make the team a contender as well.
Quarterback Antonio Brown is going to be very good. So will receivers Lester Jean and Dutes Najoee, running backs Antwan Edwards, Josua Green, Kenneth Young and Tavayne Parkins. Offensive linemen Emanuel Torres and Harryl Burley are also promising.
On defense, linebacker Darryl Clark, and linemen William Neloms and Tyrone Ballard figure to play this season as well.
There you have it. Trip No. 6 is in the books as we get the care serviced and ready four our seventh trip!
FLORIDA SUMMER FOOTBALL TOUR – No. 6
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